Find me some neat tactile toys for adults
March 9, 2015 7:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for more 'toy' items for my home- pleasingly tactile, not messy, not obviously kidlike (no fluorescent plastic). Something that can be picked up, fiddled with, and is aesthetically attractive enough to display on my coffee table.

This item and its friends are the best example I can find: Playable ART Ball. The solid wood is lovely, the smooth rolling action is super enjoyable, and it looks grown-up enough to be an art object.

I also have some of that 'kinetic' sand in a wooden tray, which is great fun, but can be a little messy.

I actually prefer non-building toys (Buckyballs, Lego, etc.) but am not opposed to suggestions of interesting ones. Metal and wood are extra pleasing to me, but also am open to lots of other stuff.

I did see this question and the linked questions within it, but it didn't quite meld with what I'm looking for.

Please help me find some entertaining, pretty, fidget/play toys so that I can continue to be a big kid at home. Consider this a no-budget question!
posted by rachaelfaith to Shopping (28 answers total) 109 users marked this as a favorite
Just in the last week, I came across The Ringer, which was purchased as a cast iron cleaner, but which turns out to be a durable, pocket-friendly, pleasingly tactile, single-piece chainmail fidget. It might speak to your appreciation for metal objects.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:20 AM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: How about wooden or metal puzzles? Even after you figure them out, they can be fun to solve and then re-tangle unconsciously.
posted by fermezporte at 7:20 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

HAY Wooden Hand or Twins blocks
Ferm Living molecule building set
posted by neushoorn at 7:32 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Las Sillas. Other products from Ludus Ludi.
posted by jeto at 7:35 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The MOMA store is good for this kind of thing. Here are their desk toys.

What about a handcrafted kaleidescope? Those can get really pricey, but they're not all super expensive.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:38 AM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: I was going to suggest the Playable ART Ball before clicking on the link and discovering that was the name of it. It is beautiful and a lot of fun. It makes nice soft clicking noises as you rub it against itself.

The Playable ART Cube is on my desk at work right now, and I love it. Coworkers sometimes play with it, too. It's very inviting.

Ball of Whacks is fun, too, especially if your desk is metal.
posted by hollyholly at 7:45 AM on March 9, 2015

Tavern puzzles.
Chainmail fidget toys
posted by drlith at 7:58 AM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: I see you're in New Jersey; if you ever get into the city, and the Flatiron in particular, The Museum of Mathematics on 26th between 5th and Madison has a lot of great stuff like what you're looking for, like this. And you can play with everything there.
posted by holborne at 8:13 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

A Tibetan Singing Bowl - it's a great meditative experience
posted by honey-barbara at 8:16 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Many years ago on a Greyhound bus I sat next to someone who had just completed a class assignment to make a sculpture specifically for blind people. He had carved his from wood. I remember holding it and closing my eyes and feeling how great it was. It really made sense that it was for blind people. It was beautiful to look at, but it felt even more beautiful and interesting for my hands.

I don't have a specific recommendation, but you might have some luck looking for sculptures, artwork, and toys for the blind.
posted by alms at 8:23 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

A Japanese puzzle box (they can be ordered online various places).
posted by wintersweet at 8:26 AM on March 9, 2015

Olive wood pen blanks. (Other woods with interesting grains would work, too.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:00 AM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: I work at a school for gifted kids, and there's a lot of cool "fidgets" out there. Some ones I think are nifty:
Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty - lots of colors, fun to play with, not messy.
Magnetic balls - I play with these a lot and just make lots of little patterns. They're pretty cheap and awesome.
The Toroflux. SO NEAT.
THE ULTIMATE FIDGET - Good, quiet fidget.
Magic loops - These are pretty and neat.
Hoberman sphere - I know, plastic, but so cool I had to add it in here.
posted by superlibby at 9:07 AM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

I really enjoy Tegu stuff, it looks really nice and I have given out small sets as presents to coworkers.

You might also enjoy a kendama. They are a bit trickier than they appear at first glance, but are a lot of fun.
posted by alienzero at 9:35 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Desktop Zen garden kit?
posted by erst at 10:04 AM on March 9, 2015

The M.C. Escher store has some sliding puzzles and a magic cube.
posted by sageleaf at 10:06 AM on March 9, 2015

Etsy has a bunch of cool-looking fidgets made out of recycled bike chain.
posted by Alioth at 10:07 AM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: Tangle's museum collection fits the bill: metal instead of their usual brightly colored plastic.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:15 AM on March 9, 2015

My current favorite fidget toy is the Lotus Flower.
posted by SamanthaK at 10:21 AM on March 9, 2015

I picked up this set of irregularly geometric natural wood "blocks" at a Starbucks. I keep them out on my white tulip kitchen table, surrounding a small pot of succulents and it looks like a modernist decor accent.

It's called "block pile" and it's not really a game, not really for building, just a nice thing to fiddle with after a meal.
posted by fontophilic at 10:44 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think I'm coming at this more from a "cool home design that happens to be a toy" angle, but I just bought this mini city from CB2 for a friend who is an urban planner. Some of the other items listed under "tabletop decor" at CB2 (like this cork globe?) seem pretty cute, and they do whimsical toys fairly often. You might continue to check out other places that specialize in home decor or design and skew young or have a whimsical bent (not quite sure if that's what you're going for; this is very popular right now, so there's a lot), like Anthropologie (this tumbling tower maybe?), Urban Outfitters (they have a lot of options. How about this hand boiler?), or are even straight-up intended for kids but a little more upscale and classic in design for their discerning parents, like Land of Nod (this cascading marble drop?).
posted by spelunkingplato at 11:07 AM on March 9, 2015

If you have access to a 3D printer, there are quite a few unique, fiddly toys you can make. As an example, here's a rotating gear cube.
posted by rocketbadger at 12:58 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

A crystal ball.
posted by pheide at 4:51 PM on March 9, 2015

Not to derail, but superlibby's amazon link for the magnetic balls (aka BuckyBalls) is dead. Is there a semi legit source for them these days?

I found this, but looks less than legit, especially that red text at the bottom.
posted by zazerr at 9:46 AM on March 10, 2015

I'm not entirely sure it matches up with what you're looking for, but the Perplexus Epic might be of interest.
posted by kejadlen at 10:41 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a black and white, op-art patterned, slightly oversized Rubix's Cube on my side table. It looks fun and "grown up" in any configuration, and the size makes it more like "conversation piece" than toy.
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on March 10, 2015

I have an Otamatone but what my non-musician friends really seem to get a lot of play out of is my Korg VolcaBeats.
posted by yoHighness at 12:18 PM on March 15, 2015

Late to the party, but I bookmarked this specifically so I could search for, find, and share this fantastic "Snaketwist" bendable metal loop thing. It is SO GREAT. You just want to pull it and twist it and crumple it and pet it and call it George.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:04 PM on March 25, 2015

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